Aiden enjoys music. He listens to Spotify while at work, switches to Pandora when jogging, and he has a playlist for everything: cardio, cooking, video games, you name it. Everything in his life has a soundtrack and it’s playing on his headphones. But the exact thing that Aiden enjoys, the loud, immersive music, could be causing lasting damage to his hearing.
There are ways to enjoy music that are safe for your ears and ways that are not so safe. But the more hazardous listening option is often the one most of us use.
How can hearing loss be caused by listening to music?
Your ability to hear can be damaged over time by exposure to loud noise. We’re accustomed to thinking of hearing loss as an issue associated with aging, but the latest research is showing that hearing loss isn’t an inherent part of getting older but is instead, the outcome of accumulated noise damage.
Younger ears that are still growing are, as it turns out, more susceptible to noise-related damage. And yet, the long-term harm from high volume is more likely to be dismissed by young adults. So there’s an epidemic of younger individuals with hearing loss thanks, in part, to loud headphone use.
Is there a safe way to listen to music?
Unrestricted max volume is obviously the “hazardous” way to enjoy music. But simply turning down the volume is a safer way to listen. The general recommendations for safe volumes are:
- For adults: No more than 40 hours of weekly listening on a device and keep the volume lower than 80dB.
- For teens and young children: You can still listen for 40 hours, but the volume should still be below 75dB.
About five hours and forty minutes a day will be about forty hours every week. Though that could seem like a long time, it can seem to pass rather quickly. But we’re conditioned to monitor time our entire lives so the majority of us are rather good at it.
Monitoring volume is a little less intuitive. Volume isn’t measured in decibels on most smart devices like TVs, computers, and smartphones. Each device has its own arbitrary scale. It might be 1-100. Or it may be 1-10. You might not have any idea what the max volume on your device is, or how close to the max you are.
How can you keep tabs on the volume of your tunes?
It’s not very easy to tell how loud 80 decibels is, but fortunately there are some non-intrusive ways to tell how loud the volume is. It’s even harder to determine the difference between 80 and 75dB.
So using one of the many noise free monitoring apps is greatly suggested. These apps, generally available for both iPhone and Android devices, will provide you with8 real-time readouts on the noises around you. That way you can track the dB level of your music in real-time and make adjustments. Your smartphone will, with the proper settings, inform you when the volume goes too high.
The volume of a garbage disposal
Your garbage disposal or dishwasher is generally about 80 decibels. So, it’s loud, but it’s not that loud. Your ears will begin to take damage at volumes above this threshold so it’s a relevant observation.
So you’ll want to be more aware of those times at which you’re moving beyond that decibel threshold. And limit your exposure if you do listen to music above 80dB. Maybe listen to your favorite song at full volume instead of the entire album.
Listening to music at a loud volume can and will cause you to develop hearing issues over the long run. You can develop hearing loss and tinnitus. The more you can be aware of when your ears are entering the danger zone, the more educated your decision-making can be. And safer listening will hopefully be part of those decisions.
Give us a call if you still have questions about keeping your ears safe.